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Looking to become liveaboards: Thoughts and Experiences


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Hi,

 

My wife and I are both 41, and we have two kids.  We've been really thinking recently about the pace of life, working all hours to cover a mortgage, building fees, bills and all
 the other costs in life, and having enough at the end of the month to scrape by.  We're really needing a change.  I can even reduce my working hours, - I just need a laptop and 4G connection to do my job.

A friend of ours who lives in Bath has told me that a few people he knows, have become 'liveaboards' and never looked back.  We have had the idea in the back of our minds for a
while to go and considered it an option to do some research.

I was wondering if anyone would be so kind to tell us of their experiences and how it has worked out for them?    Possibly - and I know this sounds awfully cheeky - would anyone in the Bath area, maybe able to have a chat in person? - I will be in the UK some time in August.    We're UK citizens, living in The Netherlands, looking to return to the UK as the stress and cost since Brexit is taking quite a toll on us.

         

Best wishes,
Chris.
 

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14 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

Hi,

 

My wife and I are both 41, and we have two kids.  We've been really thinking recently about the pace of life, working all hours to cover a mortgage, building fees, bills and all
 the other costs in life, and having enough at the end of the month to scrape by.  We're really needing a change.  I can even reduce my working hours, - I just need a laptop and 4G connection to do my job.

A friend of ours who lives in Bath has told me that a few people he knows, have become 'liveaboards' and never looked back.  We have had the idea in the back of our minds for a
while to go and considered it an option to do some research.

I was wondering if anyone would be so kind to tell us of their experiences and how it has worked out for them?    Possibly - and I know this sounds awfully cheeky - would anyone in the Bath area, maybe able to have a chat in person? - I will be in the UK some time in August.    We're UK citizens, living in The Netherlands, looking to return to the UK as the stress and cost since Brexit is taking quite a toll on us.

         

Best wishes,
Chris.
 

I wish you well, an admirable way to live.

 

But a word of caution. 

 

If you think living aboard is cheaper and easier than on the land you are wrong. 

But compared with the Netherland it is possibly a little cheaper in the UK or it was till two months ago.

You will be shocked at the price of boats now.

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15 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

I wish you well, an admirable way to live.

 

But a word of caution. 

 

If you think living aboard is cheaper and easier than on the land you are wrong. 

But compared with the Netherland it is possibly a little cheaper in the UK or it was till two months ago.

You will be shocked at the price of boats now.

 

Thanks for the quick response!  So indeed, I understand it wouldn't be easy.  To give you an idea, I need to find nearly 2500 Euros a month, just for bills.   The reason I'm asking is because, well, if it was cheap and easy, everyone would do it.  It is good to hear about what can go wrong, or how it doesn't work out because I really want to be aware of the potential pitfalls. 

I'm a bit out of touch with UK prices, even day to day, but I've heard inflation has gone up a bit in the UK recently.

 

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4 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

 

Thanks for the quick response!  So indeed, I understand it wouldn't be easy.  To give you an idea, I need to find nearly 2500 Euros a month, just for bills.   The reason I'm asking is because, well, if it was cheap and easy, everyone would do it.  It is good to hear about what can go wrong, or how it doesn't work out because I really want to be aware of the potential pitfalls. 

I'm a bit out of touch with UK prices, even day to day, but I've heard inflation has gone up a bit in the UK recently.

 

There are many threads on here about exactly what you want to do.  Everybody does seem to be doing it.

 

Forget London area, its already over populated with boats and terrifyingly expensive.

 

To buy a boat for four of you to live on full time it would need to be at least a 57' narrowboat, one not too old and well maintained is going to cost at the very least £60K

 

A wide boat is possible in certain areas but is restricted to the wide canals and cramps your style if you want to move around. They are also more expensive in all ways especially maintenance.

 

Important question,  is you partner also prepared to live on a boat full time?

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Even a wide boat is a very small space to live in compared with a house or flat. Fine for a holiday, but are you sure you can squeeze four of you and all your belongings into such as space for an extended period?

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5 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

There are many threads on here about exactly what you want to do.  Everybody does seem to be doing it.

 

Forget London area, its already over populated with boats and terrifyingly expensive.

 

To buy a boat for four of you to live on full time it would need to be at least a 57' narrowboat, one not too old and well maintained is going to cost at the very least £60K

 

A wide boat is possible in certain areas but is restricted to the wide canals and cramps your style if you want to move around. They are also more expensive in all ways especially maintenance.

 

Important question,  is you partner also prepared to live on a boat full time?

 

Understood, I'm sorry if I jumped in too quickly and posted right off.    My wife is, yes, providing that we are fully informed about the pros and cons.  Basically, this is the start of some research for us.  I think our budget is around £110K.   We're looking at a maybe 6 year timescale to decide what we do next in life, so no decision will be made in too little time and definitely not without making a well informed decision.

 

So, it's plenty of time to really try and learn about the pitfalls and decide whether or not this for us.   

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22 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Important question,  is you partner also prepared to live on a boat full time?

 

 

^^^This^^^

 

This is a particularly important question. If one partner is filled with enthusiasm and the other is luke warm or just agreeing for a quiet life, it is NOT going to work. There are many compromises that a proportion of female womens will not accept. Mostly revolving around the toilet arrangements, the need to economise on water or spend half your life cruising to the water point, and the absence of hefty mains electric power in a boat for stuff like hair dryers, electric kettles etc. 

 

Edited by MtB
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58 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

 

Thanks for the quick response!  So indeed, I understand it wouldn't be easy.  To give you an idea, I need to find nearly 2500 Euros a month, just for bills.   The reason I'm asking is because, well, if it was cheap and easy, everyone would do it.  It is good to hear about what can go wrong, or how it doesn't work out because I really want to be aware of the potential pitfalls. 

I'm a bit out of touch with UK prices, even day to day, but I've heard inflation has gone up a bit in the UK recently.

 

It is relatively cheap though not easy in London, and I understand that area is crammed with folks who can't afford to buy or even rent. However it is all relevant to income. Jobs are better paid in London.

If you have not done the budgets, you will have to!

Basically buying bricks and mortar will give you certain conventional status, life is a little easier, as well as a more certain increase in value, so long term has to be a sensible option. Mortgages are relatively very cheap at the moment. You need a deposit and a mortgage, proof of income.

Buying a cheap boat to "do up" is probably not a good option, best to buy something you can afford , in good condition. New boats will have higher initial depreciation. Currently boat prices are rising, a bit, but historically they depreciate, they need maintenance, if you ignore this, you will increase depreciation.

You need to be adaptable and resourceful to live on a boat. It does not suit everyone. Obviously you can sell it if it does not work out.

But remember, a boat is not a good long term investment, you are at an age when you need to plan ahead, future proof your lifestyle. I could not advise anyone to plan for forty years on the inland waterways, things will change too much in your lives and on boat life, both are relatively unpredictable.

If I had £100k, at your age, I'd buy bricks and mortar to live in, not a boat.

Update: kids are going to be problematic.

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, LadyG said:

It is relatively cheap though not easy in London, and I understand that area is crammed with folks who can't afford to buy or even rent. However it is all relevant to income. Jobs are better paid in London.

If you have not done the budgets, you will have to!

Basically buying bricks and mortar will give you certain conventional status, life is a little easier, as well as a more certain increase in value, so long term has to be a sensible option. Mortgages are relatively very cheap at the moment. You need a deposit and a mortgage, proof of income.

Buying a cheap boat to "do up" is probably not a good option, best to buy something you can afford , in good condition. New boats will have higher initial depreciation. Currently boat prices are rising, a bit, but historically they depreciate, they need maintenance, if you ignore this, you will increase depreciation.

You need to be adaptable and resourceful to live on a boat. It does not suit everyone. Obviously you can sell it if it does not work out.

But remember, a boat is not a good long term investment, you are at an age when you need to plan ahead, future proof your lifestyle. I could not advise anyone to plan for forty years on the inland waterways, things will change too much in your lives and on boat life, both are relatively unpredictable.

 

 

 

 

Definitely food for thought.  Thank you everyone here for dropping in your thoughts. 

 

The reason I'm specifically asking for experiences, pitfalls and negatives, is I've known a few people in life that have gone off being captivated by the idea of doing something that sounds cool, not really listened to people that are well informed and have made a bit of a mess of things.

 

Thanks all, 

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5 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

 

Definitely food for thought.  Thank you everyone here for dropping in your thoughts. 

 

The reason I'm specifically asking for experiences, pitfalls and negatives, is I've known a few people in life that have gone off being captivated by the idea of doing something that sounds cool, not really listened to people that are well informed and have made a bit of a mess of things.

 

Thanks all, 

4 on a boat, I think your kids may end up hating you. lol

Boats are small, even widebeams. The idea of 4 on a 57ft narrowboat sounds like a nightmare to me. Storage is a major consideration, you will have to have almost no possessions. People have done it though. I think you'll need to park permanently in a marina on a residential mooring for access to schools. There is a lot of competition and it won't be cheap. You are however at an advantage if you work from home on a laptop. All in all, if I was in your position I'd be looking for a house but it wouldn't be in Bath - lovely as Bath is it's expensive. TBH you'll end up either with a huge mortgage or living oop north with... a smaller mortgage - just get yourself on Rightmove and look - 3 bed house is expensive almost anywhere and it's disappointing what £300k gets you, never mind £110k.

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16 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

The reason I'm specifically asking for experiences, pitfalls and negatives, is I've known a few people in life that have gone off being captivated by the idea of doing something that sounds cool, not really listened to people that are well informed and have made a bit of a mess of things.

Fine for a young person, no dependents, no commitments, no money, few belongings, to try living on a boat for a year or two and if it all works out, fine, if not, chalk it up to experience and try something else.

But it's a whole lot riskier for someone in mid-life, with a family to support, and all the 'stuff' one acquires over time. You can't really live for the moment in the same way - you need to keep an eye on the wellbeing of your children and their education, their needs as they become teenagers and young adults (if they haven't got that far yet), as well as having regard to what you will be doing in 20 or 30 years time. In recent years boats have held their value, but houses have gone up in price massively over the same period. Both of those trends may not continue, but historically bricks and mortar has always been a better investment than a boat. At 41 you are not too old to get on the mortgage treadmill, but if you leave it much longer, the options will begin to close in a bit. 

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Depends how old the kids are. Even in a full length 70 foot narrowboat you'll be tripping over each other and not have much storage for anything but the essentials. If they're really young you could do it. We do it with a little one and another on the way. If they were older you'd probably find you need more space. Either a dreaded widebeam or a second boat that you tow around. If they're teenagers and competent I'd go the second boat route, more adventure when moving and their own personal space etc. License fees would cost more though. Be under no illusion about not being cramped with four people on a narrowboat though, it will be cramped and you will always want more storage.  

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10 minutes ago, Slow and Steady said:

4 on a boat, I think your kids may end up hating you. lol

Boats are small, even widebeams. The idea of 4 on a 57ft narrowboat sounds like a nightmare to me. Storage is a major consideration, you will have to have almost no possessions. People have done it though. I think you'll need to park permanently in a marina on a residential mooring for access to schools. There is a lot of competition and it won't be cheap. You are however at an advantage if you work from home on a laptop. All in all, if I was in your position I'd be looking for a house but it wouldn't be in Bath - lovely as Bath is it's expensive. TBH you'll end up either with a huge mortgage or living oop north with... a smaller mortgage - just get yourself on Rightmove and look - 3 bed house is expensive almost anywhere and it's disappointing what £300k gets you, never mind £110k.

Thanks for the input :) 

 

Oh gosh, not while they are still in school.  I already imagine that being a disaster, besides, they are in the Dutch school system at the moment, so changing to a different language in a new country would be too unsettling.  Come to think about it, there is the very real possibility that at least one of them will move out anyway by the time this becomes a possibility.

 

Lived up North, some lovely people there and some really nice years.  Also lived Wales, Taunton, Netherlands and South Africa.   We really don't know how to settle down.  :)      

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1 hour ago, David Mack said:

Even a wide boat is a very small space to live in compared with a house or flat. Fine for a holiday, but are you sure you can squeeze four of you and all your belongings into such as space for an extended period?

This is the thing, children expect their own room, and access to the internet 24/7 , they will not necessarily adapt.

And it will kill your sex life!

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Just now, Tracy D'arth said:

I never found that.   Just had to find some more interesting and available places!

No comment

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1 hour ago, Tracy D'arth said:

I never found that.   Just had to find some more interesting and available places!

Okay, I just choked on my coffee reading this.  :) 

 

Still, I'm going to show everything here to my wife later, so we have all these thoughts to think about.  I've had a look at the other threads and they have a lot of insightful comments also. 

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1 hour ago, Tracy D'arth said:

I never found that.   Just had to find some more interesting and available places!

Lock beams on deserted canals ;)

 

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Not sure where I read this recently I think it was on thus forum somewhere but the following suggestion, or similar, was made.

 

Move all of your family into your kitchen and all live only in there for a  month.

That will give you some idea of the space you have.

You you then have to remember that water is on short supply so no hot baths or long showers of you.

Factor in the number of times you will need to empty the toilet and where you can empty it. 

It's a great life for the unencumbered or for those who have an escape route back to ' civilisation '

And remember that your £110,000 home will rapidly depreciate.

 

Good luck with it, your doing the right thing researching in advance if you have any sense you won't even consider it however if you don't have any sense turn you will fit right in with all of us that were to dumb to take the sensible route.

Good luck whatever you decide.

 

A do heed the warning about London and the South east it seems that CRT have lost control of it now seens to be run by self appointed ............

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Why not just live on a boat in the Netherlands till your kids are old enough to make their own decisions? Do you need to uproot the family back to England to live on a boat to save money?

  It may also be stressful living on a boat around Bath as the canals are getting more congested and legit residential moorings are getting harder to find, lots of people are having the same idea as you.

Edited by PD1964
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51 minutes ago, Chris Taylor said:

Okay, I just choked on my coffee reading this.  :) 

 

Still, I'm going to show everything here to my wife later, so we have all these thoughts to think about.  I've had a look at the other threads and they have a lot of insightful comments also. 

Plenty of people have lived on boats with their kids, school age and above, I might suggest though that not many on here have, so you are likely to get more "it will be a nightmare" comments than the more practical comments from those who have done it.

 

I don't have any kids so I am in the "nightmare" camp but as I am also a grumpy anti social sod anyway that's not much of a surprise  :)

 

What I would say though, if you can afford the financial hit if it goes wrong or you decide it's not for you then go for it, for all the good advice people will freely and happily give here you only really know if it suits you when you have done it for a year or so and if it does the rewards are worth it.

 

Obviously I completely ignored my own sage advice in the last paragraph about finances when I bought my boat and I had no experience about boats and I didn't know how to steer, or where the water went or how the electrical system worked or...

 

anyway I think I have made up my mind about whether  boat life is for me over the last 15 odd years ;)

 

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6 minutes ago, tree monkey said:

but as I am also a grumpy anti social sod anyway that's not much of a surprise  :)

 

I've also managed to aquire that esteemed boater status, took a while though.

 

Being able to have a good old internal grump and also have no real ability to make sensible decisions is almost a definition of a long term cc liveaboard.

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3 hours ago, PD1964 said:

Why not just live on a boat in the Netherlands till your kids are old enough to make their own decisions? Do you need to uproot the family back to England to live on a boat to save money?

  It may also be stressful living on a boat around Bath as the canals are getting more congested and legit residential moorings are getting harder to find, lots of people are having the same idea as you.

 

We're waiting until the kids finish school, this is why it's a 6 year time frame.  Plus we're not selling our current property even if we do try this out.   We should be able to rent it out for more than the mortgage due to the housing shortage over here, so we;re not really losing anything.

 

We're only looking at a return because Brexit is slowly introducing challenges; the uncertainty that I'm even going to be able to live in my own home with a visa renewal every 5 years isn't fun.  Plus, an increasing number of jobs in my line of work are starting to ask for EU27 only.

 

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4 hours ago, reg said:

Not sure where I read this recently I think it was on thus forum somewhere but the following suggestion, or similar, was made.

 

Move all of your family into your kitchen and all live only in there for a  month.

That will give you some idea of the space you have.

You you then have to remember that water is on short supply so no hot baths or long showers of you.

Factor in the number of times you will need to empty the toilet and where you can empty it. 

It's a great life for the unencumbered or for those who have an escape route back to ' civilisation '

And remember that your £110,000 home will rapidly depreciate.

 

Good luck with it, your doing the right thing researching in advance if you have any sense you won't even consider it however if you don't have any sense turn you will fit right in with all of us that were to dumb to take the sensible route.

Good luck whatever you decide.

 

A do heed the warning about London and the South east it seems that CRT have lost control of it now seens to be run by self appointed ............

Thank you, :). That is a nice way to summarise it. 

    

Yes, we do have an escape route. Just in case we need it; there is a 'Brick and Mortar' property.  That amount of money is sort of the upper limit of what we would be looking to spend.  Common sense?  Sadly I was back of the queue when that was handed out.  

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